Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare Patricia Kaliati on Wednesday evening stole the show when she was guest of honour during the launch of the Gender Equality and HIV/AIDS Policy by the Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM).
The minister made a speech for about 45 minutes, making most people in the Capital Hotel’s Marquee tired of listening.
A greater part of the audience, which was made up mostly of farmers from across the country, started dozing due to Kaliati’s long speech, which was also preceded by another long presentation by a FUM consultant, a Dr. Vondai Kandiva.
When organizers gave her a “Time-up” note, she told the audience she was not going to cut her remarks because men too had spoken for long and that her speech was being cut simply because she is a woman. But no man before her had spoken that long.
Kaliati then raised more questions than answers about her academic achievements when she forgot to mention the area of her Master’s Degree, sending people into stitches until the minister’s personal assistant reminded her that her Master’s Degree is in HIV/AIDS and Counselling.
Kaliati, who filled her remarks with HIV/AIDS messages of being faithful to each other and satisfying each other in marriages, then said she would obtain her Ph.D in Gender so that she continues fighting for women’s rights.
United States Ambassador to Malawi, Virginia Palmer, who also attended the event, observed in her speech that women in Malawi work hard in their fields but do not get full benefits from it due to their limited participation in processing, marketing and trading activities.
“The policy will also go a long way in addressing Malawi’s rapid population growth, which, at current rates, could reach 40 million by 2040, placing untenable pressure on scarce land, straining already-stretched social services, and threatening Malawi’s hard-won development gains,” Ambassador Palmer said.
FUM Chief Executive Officer Prince Kapondamgaga noted that Malawi as a country is dominated by agricultural activities with women being the key providers of agricultural labour.
“It is therefore appropriate that the Farmers Union of Malawi should prioritize the empowerment of women farmers so that they gain their rightful place and are enabled to fully partake and benefit, both socially and economically,” Kapondamgaga said.
FUM is implementing a project called Malawi Agricultural Policy Strengthening (MAPS). The project is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and is strengthening the policy environment for the country’s agricultural sector.
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